Uploaded: Thursday, June 29, 2000 3:15 PM

Eshoo urges hospitals to resume strike talks

Rep. Anna Eshoo has written a letter urging Stanford and Lucile Packard Children's hospital administrators to "do whatever possible to bring the talks to a speedy conclusion" and settle the nurses' strike.

Dated June 26, the letter from the Palo Alto Democrat was sent to Christopher Dawes, Packard Hospital CEO, and Malinda Mitchell, Stanford Hospital CEO.

Noting that the hospitals had a difficult time with the merger and recent dissolution with the University of California, San Francisco, Eshoo wrote in part:

"Any mistrust that might have developed within that atmosphere must be set aside, and both sides must negotiate in the utmost good faith to bring the work stoppage to an end."

The hospitals welcome Eshoo's interest in the situation, hospital spokesman Ben Drew said this afternoon. "We share her interest in getting this settled," he said.

More than 1,700 nurses at the two hospitals went on strike June 7. The Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement, the nurses' union, is asking for 17.5 percent in pay raises over two years. The hospitals have offered 8 percent over two years with the admonition that "no new offer is forthcoming."

As of today, no new talks were scheduled.

The hospitals have hired 500 replacement nurses, and many CRONA nurses are working at other Bay Area hospitals in the meantime. About 20 CRONA nurses have crossed picket lines and returned to work.

Eshoo's letter also touched on working conditions and patient safety:

"Too often, the financial pressures facing hospitals result in nursing supervisors requiring staff nurses to accept patient-to-nurse ratios that result in patient assignments that are unsafe. . . . As you establish your procedures in patient care, I ask that you consider addressing this issue and incorporate a collaborative process that permits nurses and other health care professionals to participate in setting patient care standards."